I Dunno, Pops, What Do You Think?

I haven’t written much on the blog this summer and tonight, the psych 101 revelation dawned on me as to why that is. I say ‘dawned’ but that sounds like I’m chanting in the lotus position when things just ‘dawn on me.’

No, no.

Let me be clear. I was whining on the phone to Ann, which is how most of my personal revelations begin: me whining.

Ann was patient, of course.

Tonight’s whine wandered into me not writing anything new lately, barely blogging. While I’m never sure how many friends read this website, once in a while someone will call, worried, and say, ‘What’s up? No blog entries.’ So I do try to update the content every now and then to say ‘Still trying to figure things out over here. You?’

Ann asked me what I last wrote and then WHAM I experienced this dawning:  my father’s eulogy was the last thing I posted on the Warrior page. I realized that if I wrote something new, his eulogy would get bumped lower. Be less recent.

This is one of those ‘moving on’ moments that seem so obvious when you read about them in grief brochures (doctor’s office waiting room). But then it’s happening to you and it’s like, oh. Right. This is lifelong grief.

If I write something new, it would push his eulogy lower.

Got it.

I miss my dad.

I hate this death situation we all get to share. I would really like to know, how the fucking hell people just smile and nod when one of the most awesomest men you’ve ever met just leaves? Just fucking leaves? Which now means that many of my Minnesota friends reading this will never meet him. Ever.

My goddaughters never met him. Never will.

How can I make them understand that part of the love I have for them is what he shared with me?

Dammit, I need to talk to my dad because I want to ask his advice on this hard life stuff. But I am still very uncomfortable with prayer and I have to get over that, like now, because I think he went into the Catholic heaven and that’s how you reach people up there. You drop on your temporarily-Catholic knees and pray to God Almighty to love your dad and give him a hug that he knows is from me.

It hurts.

It hurts.

On the plus side, I was afraid my relationship with my dad would end when he died, and it didn’t, so that’s a relief. I still talk to him every day, a half-dozen times in my head, telling him to quit giving me his stupid advice and then the next minute saying, “I dunno, Pops. What do you think about this?”

That’s cool.

Every memory is now gently perfect, even the painful ones. We could both be difficult, so some of our memories together just suck. I have a moment from when I was 13 and he would not let me buy a skateboard. I am not trying to be cute – that fight agonizes me to this day. I was a teenage douchebag.

But I can relive memories like these easier now, because I know how this father/son thing ends for us. My father thought I “was a pleasure,” and I loved him on his deathbed. So the painful memories hurt, and suck, but they are softer. We did alright, me and Dad.

Yes, we had our shit. We didn’t resolve it all. But we did alright.

In fact, the only thing that could disrupt our relationship now is new information, like that he had a secret Canadian family.

Oh god, Dad, please don’t let it be revealed that you had a secret family in Canada who you went to visit all those times when you we thought you were sneaking cigarettes in the garage. I don’t want a half-Canadian sister named “Irene.”

I think we’re okay on that front, though. I think he spent all his ‘secret Canadian family time’ being exhausted off his ass with his three jobs, four kids, football coaching, church involvements, extended family, etc.

Ugh. Irene.

One of my real sisters is named Eileen and since Canadian Irene would be quite a bit younger, that means we were the preferred family and they were all named in loving imitation. How awkward for them. There would be this Canadian 32-year-old named Stedman and I would hate his guts.

(Don’t worry, I’m just giving you shit, Pops.)

But I think I’m supposed to write about some other stuff now.

Might be time.

I recently faced a difficult crossroad about this upcoming weekend. My men’s group, New Warriors, are hosting another incredible New Warrior Training Adventure. I’ve written about this experience many times before; check the archives. I need to breathe in the power of these men and in their presence breathe out some of my own unique giftedness.

Sometimes, staffing is like that one time with my Dad when I chipped off the baby angel’s toe from the church’s nativity scene, in that I get yelled at for something by a guy who loves me enough to be angry and he is unafraid to show it.

But wait.

This same weekend, my father is being honored in Illinois by his high school alma mater. As a student, Dad did crazy shit with football, broke track records and was damn good at basketball, I am told. Decades later, he coached the St. Ed track athletes who broke his same records. What kind of man coaches the next generation to be their best, even if it means surpassing what he has accomplished? He coached them on how to beat his records.

This Saturday night during a home football game, he’s being inducted into their Hall of Fame. There will be a ceremony where my mom and siblings walk out on the field.

I can’t believe I was forced to choose between the NWTA (which happens twice a year and I missed the Spring one) and an out-of-state football ceremony where we all get to love my dad in public, so big, so big.

Though I decided to remain on our NWTA staff, I still agonize over this decision a few times a day. I pray to Almighty God on how to best love my Pops. Will he think I love him less if I do not attend the halftime ceremony? But I think this might be my way to honor you, Dad, to love other men who need to experience what it means to be loved with strength.

I won’t ever stop mourning you and asking for advice, then gritting my teeth and asking you to kindly butt out. Don’t go too far.

Anyway, it’s late. We’ll chat more tomorrow. I know that now.


12 Responses to “I Dunno, Pops, What Do You Think?”

  1. Damon Van Duzen Says:

    As you know, I lost my Dad and know how and what you are feeling at this time, in November it will be now 4yrs since I lost my father and the year after I went through my weekend in August, I offer strength and Masculine power that both our fathers’ gave us. I love you Brother, stay strong!

  2. Jeffrey Fillion Says:

    Virtual hug.

  3. Michele Says:

    Wow. In my mind, writers who are truly gifted have the ability to evoke much emotion in their readers. Having just finished reading your latest entry, I’m sitting here – tears streaming down my cheeks AND a huge smile on my face! Now that some damn good gifted writing my friend! I know your pops knows how much you love him – hell, I can FEEL your love for him and we’ve only known each other a short time. Keep talking to him Edmond and one day I don’t think you’ll even have to wonder if your dad thought you “loved him less if you don’t attend the half-time ceremony.” He’ll find a way to let you know what I/we already know. :)

  4. Tom Weaver Says:

    Hey Edmond, Thanks for being such an evocative writer. Thanks for honoring your Dad. I flash back on my continued relationship with my Dad, who passed over in Jan 1982 and he is still a great inspiration for me, being on the other side!
    Hey man, thanks for being a powerful presence on our MKP Community and bless you for knowing and sharing what a gift your Dad continues to be for you in your life. Peace, love, joy and beauty on your earth adventure bro!

  5. Leslie Roxworthy Says:

    Ted, your writing never ceases to move me. I knew your dad. Please feel confident in your choice of attending the NWTA because I believe in my heart that your dad would want that for you. You are honoring him by pursuing your passions now, just as you honored him with the best eulogy I have ever witnessed, bar none. From one ex-Catholic to another, I am so proud of you…to have the guts to honor your father by being that temporarily-Catholic person we all need to be, from time to time, though it goes against your very core to do so. That’s the stand-up guy your dad raised. He knows, and he’s smiling down on you. Yep, time to move forward. Godspeed!

  6. Edmond Says:

    Wow…thank you for all the amazing commments, everybody. I have reread each of them, over and over. I am so touched that all of you made time to read it, and respond with your own flavor of love and support.

    Leslie – you totally get what it means to a former Catholic to pray that way, and

    Michele, what a beautiful thing to say to a new friend, and what trust you inspire to believe my Dad is okay.

    Tom, I’m so glad you’re still in relationship with your dad – that’s so great to hear!

    Damon, thanks for the perspective of someone who gets it, and

    Jeffrey, I think you read my blogs most of all, so a hug from you says everything.

  7. Leslie Roxworthy Says:

    Groove on, old friend, groove on.

  8. Alesia Says:

    This was a really lovely post Edmond. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. Thanks for sharing.

  9. CM Justice Says:

    Great writing brother. From afar I can relate. I’m in Spain. My father continues to maintain his sense of dignity as his health deteriorates. But our relationship remains at best distant. He inspired me to do better with my own sons. I anticipate a deep loss when he passes although his tenacity is also inspiring, it may be awhile. I’m admitting here, that the connection you describe is what I wanted from him. He is still unable or unwilling to go there. MKP has filled the gap for me. Love all these awesome mature and powerful men. like you brother. Blessings from El Camino

  10. Eric Weinstein Says:

    I just returned from staffing an out-of-town NWTA for the New York Metro community. In my email after the weekend, I wrote: “Checking out with gratitude for the healing experience of being in powerful circle of men just before the one-year anniversary of my father’s passing.”

    My relationship with my father wasn’t as good as yours, but I miss him. And I knew that I could be there in grief, be supported by other staff, and still serve the new men who were there to change their lives. It’s impossible to explain how that worked, but it did. I believe you did the right thing, for yourself, and for your father.

    And your writing, as always, just knocks me out.

  11. Edmond Says:

    Eric, thank you for your beautiful words and sharing your story with your father. It’s hard, isn’t it, to not have a ‘perfect relationship’ with someone you deeply love. I wish my dad and I were closer and then I think, “We were as close as we could be considering how we both saw the world.” And for both of us to find this rare space where we could grumble at each other AND love each other deeply is pretty rare.

    I grieved with my warrior friends on staff this past weekend and it was incredible. It’s not that I love grieving and bawling my eyes out, but I love being around men who witness my mourning and through that experience, witness my dad.

    And thank you, Alesia, for your love and regular reading. Sorry I won’t see you this coming weekend!

  12. Kevin O'Connor Says:

    I just came across your blog. What you wrote about your dad provides insight to me as well as confirmation to me about the dad I imagined your dad to be. Other than a few occasions when I was with you and your family, I didn’t get to see Joe too much in a dad role. Your writing certainly conveys the special relationship you had and continue to have with your father. Your description of Coach Manning is superb and makes me wish I had taken the opportunity to be on his track team when I was a freshman at St. Ed’s in 1965.

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